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Metaverse: Substituting The Physical With Virtual


Ever since Facebook changed its name to ‘Meta’ to signal its entry into the metaverse environment, the term is often thrown around. However, the time "metaverse" has been around for several decades (thanks to Neal Stephenson), and it represents everything that is part of a virtual world with which we can interact. It is rapidly blurring the lines between the physical and virtual worlds. Yes, there are some security concerns regarding data protection, privacy, and so on, but people involved must ensure that these concerns are addressed.

As discussed at the spring edition of Internet 2.0 Conference, the metaverse is the internet's evolutionary next stage, offering a new suite of communication tools that will be more useful for some things and less useful for others. It includes functions that are not limited by the physical world and could be a powerful enabler of what businesses are already attempting to do. From testing to assembly and dismantling to new product and service development, virtualization has the potential to accelerate the creation of better customer outcomes and experiences while consuming fewer real-world resources.

Substituting resource-intensive physical goods and real-world experiences with digital and virtual alternatives in the metaverse could result in significant environmental benefits. Digital twins of the physical world will enable new optimization levels — from the planet to the individual human — by combining IoT, visualization, and real-world data from various sources.

Virtual Consumption Requires Fewer Physical Resources

Digital products and virtual experiences in the metaverse will almost certainly be less resource-intensive and less carbon-intensive than comparable ones in the real world. As metaverse offerings become more appealing, consumers may shift their limited budgets to more sustainable virtual options, resulting in significant positive sustainability impacts.

Meeting In The Metaverse: The New Mode Of Travel

Metaverse experiences could significantly displace both air and ground-based recreational and business travel. On the other hand, the business world and consumers discovered that, while not perfect, videoconferencing was adequate for various purposes, ranging from team meetings to virtual happy hours.

Consider a gathering in the metaverse, whether for work or play, with real personal presence and the ability to collaborate, share, and recreate in ways that a "live" gathering would not allow — without the time, expense, and complexity of traditional travel.

Physical & Virtual Optimization With Digital Twins

The metaverse's convergence of AI, AR/VR, IoT, and satellite-generated data promises to elevate digital twins. Digital twins, virtual representations of real-world entities and processes, could help propel global sustainability, from supply chains and manufacturing assets to individuals.


Finally, we should not be content with simply watching the metaverse emerge. There are multiple possible futures for the metaverse. We have the agency and solutions to design one that focuses on environmental sustainability in the physical world and human flourishing in the virtual ones.

The metaverse expands the scope of sustainability, and now is the time for businesses to take the lead in this critical moment by leveraging their innovation, convening power, and investment.


Pragya Kandpal is a member of the Internet 2.0 Conference’s organizing team. The conference, which will take place in 2022, will bring together some of the most influential tech experts and leaders to shine a light on technological breakthroughs, scam and fraud prevention on the internet, and the latest happenings in the realms of artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing and augmented reality.